WITH OBAMA’S BLESSINGS, OUTSPOKEN U.S. CITIZENS ARE BEING TARGETED FOR AN INQUISITION BEFITTING A DICTATORSHIP.
by Nat Hentoff
from HUSTLER Magazine July 2011
Since the twilight of George W. Bush’s regime, the FBI has become, like the CIA, a force that doesn’t have to pay any attention to the Constitution. While the CIA operates in secrecy, it is public knowledge that the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide—now also fully supported by President Obama and his lapdog, Attorney General Eric Holder—gives the bureau the power to open “threat assessment” investigations of any American without any factual basis, suspicion of wrongdoing or connection to any foreign entity. J. Edgar Hoover would be so envious of the present FBI director, Robert Mueller.
Mike German, a former FBI antiterrorism agent now on the staff of the American Civil Liberties Union, points out that these FBI home and office invasions scoop up “address books, computer records, literature and advocacy materials—First Amendment sort of materials.”
On September 24, 2010, in one of its continuous “assessment” raids, the FBI barged into the homes and offices of nonviolent dissenters— antiwar, human rights, labor and other activists—in Chicago, Minneapolis and elsewhere in the Midwest.
These privacy and First Amendment invaders served grand jury subpoenas as they left. One of those summoned, Maureen Murphy (a journalist and advocate of Palestinian solidarity), issued a patriotic defiance of the FBI on CommonDreams.org: “Activism Is Not a Crime: Why I Will Not Testify Before This Federal Grand Jury.”
Murphy notes that she was targeted “as part of an investigation into ‘material support for foreign terrorist organizations.’ No crime has been identified. No arrests have been made. And…the FBI acknowledged that there is no immediate threat to the American public. So what is this investigation really about?”
It could only be a synchronized intent by the Obama Administration—like its predecessor— to tamp down dissent of national security policies so that Obama will stay in office. Recovering somewhat from the Democrats’ defeats in the midterm elections, this commander in chief clearly plans to preside over a second term.
Speaking like a reincarnation of Tom Paine, Murphy refuses to be intimidated: “The U.S. government doesn’t need to call me before a grand jury to learn my activities and my beliefs. I have often appealed to my elected representatives to take a principled stand on foreign-policy issues, protested outside federal buildings and have written countless articles over the years that can be easily found through a Google search.”
Along with Maureen Murphy, 22 other targets of those particular FBI raids were issued grand jury subpoenas last September, and, so far, they too have refused to testify.
Their assertion of quintessential Constitutional Americanism has to be understood by the rest of us in the context of a deep December 10, 2010, Washington Post investigative report. “Monitoring America” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Dana Priest, along with William Arkin, has received far too little attention—and no Congressional action!
I write about this report as masses of courageous Egyptian protesters celebrate their removal of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak by welcoming the arrival of longdreamed- of democracy.
Consider, however, the state of our own democracy as documented in “Monitoring America”: “The United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state Homeland Security offices and military criminal investigators.
“The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation’s history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. The government’s goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.” The Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights has been extrajudicially suspended.
Would Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin and the other Founders recognize this as the United States? Do you? And did you know what Maureen Murphy eagerly discloses: “Witnesses called to testify to a grand jury have no right to have a lawyer in the room, and the jury is handpicked by government prosecutors with no screening for bias. It is the ultimate abuse of power for a citizen to be forced to account to the government for no other reason than her exercise of Constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and association.”
This unintimidated American pledges that “even though it means I risk being jailed for the life of the grand jury, I will not be appearing before it.”
Will the President, now seeking reelection in 2012, award Murphy— and her fellow resisters to grand jury subpoenas—the Presidential Liberty Medal? You can be sure that Barack Obama will not. Egyptians went out to the streets in waves of historic numbers to be free. How free of government spying on us are we citizens of the United States of America? Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black warned us: “We must not be afraid to be free.”
At the conclusion of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a newly minted American, “What have you given us?”
“A republic,” Franklin answered, “if you can keep it.” We are fast losing our grip.
Nat Hentoff is a historian of the Constitution, a jazz critic and a columnist for the Village Voice and Free Inquiry. His incisive books include The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America ; Living the Bill of Rights ; and the forthcoming Is This America?
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